The beginning of Chris Simms’ top-40 quarterbacks in the NFL list has been published, and Bears fans are not going to be happy with how it kicks off. Ranked No. 39 overall, ahead of only Case Keenum, you’ll find first-round pick Justin Fields. That’s one slot behind 49ers’ pick Trey Lance, and two slots behind Vikings third-round pick Kellen Mond.
Over the entire offseason, Simms has expressed concerns with Fields’ throwing motion, but if you haven’t heard his analysis yet, he explained it again on an upcoming episode of the Under Center Podcast.
“The arm is big time from a power standpoint, but from a consistency, a variety of throws, from needing space into the pocket and a lack of different angles throwing the football, yeah, those things need work in my opinion,” Simms said. “Big time. Especially some of the mechanical issues.
“There are just too many throws that are missed that should be slam dunk NFL completions that I saw that were incomplete, or complete and the guy had to fall down, or the guy never even got a hand on it. Those are the things that worry me, so that’s why he’s 39.
“Anybody who’s watched NFL football, or quarterback in general, you could look at Justin Fields and say, ‘I don’t see too many people with that type of release. It’s a long motion that needs time and space. It’s elbow-first movement… where sometimes he throws it all arm. That’s my issue… There’s no body, or opposites created like you see a Rodgers, a Brady, or Mahomes do, that make the body involved in the throwing. It’s less arm than you would think.”
But the concerns with Fields’ mechanics don’t end with the upper body for Simms. He thinks the rookie will need to work on his footwork too.
“If you watch Brady, Mahomes, Rodgers in the pocket, their feet are always underneath them, almost like a great boxer. At times, Justin Fields, he can get his right leg— which should basically be under your right shoulder when you’re getting ready to throw the football and really uncork it— his leg can get outside of the framework of his body. It can make him lean almost as a thrower. Then it really becomes all arm. Then, he can really push and have a long stride, like a pitcher off the mound.”
The problem with that is most NFL pockets don’t allow for big steps forward like that.
“Yeah, there’s a few quarterbacks that the pocket’s always great, the offensive line is awesome, and everything’s roses and great. But most quarterbacks in the NFL are playing in a phonebooth. That’s the biggest adjustment coming from college to the NFL.
“So between that, the elbow thing, these really long strides he has throwing the football, they just have to stay on top of that. You see moments of him doing that in college football, where you go, ‘Ok, that’s ok.’ But then you come back next week, and it’s not there and you go, ‘Whoa, ok, this is some type of adjustment.’ It’s not an easy fix. They’re really going to have to be diligent and all over him for, if he wants to get better.
“His talent and everything is, if everything goes right, he’s got the talent to be a top-10 quarterback one day. But if the throwing falls apart, or I see what I saw during the Northwestern game, or the Alabama game, or some other moments that I saw last year, I go, ‘No, things could get bad too.’ So, I’m unsure, I’d just like to see a little bit more before I throw him in front of some of these guys who I know what they are, and they’re a little bit more of a proven commodity at this point.”
All that said, Simms made it abundantly clear that it’s nothing personal against Fields. He even hopes his assessment is off the mark.
“I’m not rooting against Justin Fields,” Simms said. “I hope Justin Fields proves me wrong. I know he’s a good kid, it’s my job to evaluate and do these types of things.”